The Christian Association of Nigeria Kwara State Chapter has expressed their displeasure at the attack meted out on some churches by persons suspected to be Muslim fundamentalists.
In a Press Statement issued to the press on Tuesday in Ilorin stated that churches attacked include Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Oke-Isegun, Taiwo Isale while attackers were heard chanting “Allah is Great”, “Allah Akbar, this land belongs to the Muslims”, and throwing stones to destroyed the windows of CAC when they could not gain access.
According to CAN Chairman, Kwara Chapter, Professor Opoola, “Most of the Christian worshippers returning back home from the cross over service were attacked and raped, while some of them were lucky to be rescued.”
“Also, some of the girls who fall victims ran to Methodist Cathedral naked for safety. This Muslims fanatic broke the gate of Methodist Cathedral and forcefully gained entrance into the premises, destroyed Church buildings and some vehicles.”
The statement said that at that point, a call was put through to the Commissioner of Police Kwara Command by CAN Chairman that CAC and Methodist Churches were under attack adding that the Muslims moved from CAC Oke Isegun to St Joseph Catholic Cathedral, entered the premises of the church destroying church building and vehicles and committing various havocs.
While inside the Catholic Church the suspected fundamentalists demount two statues; that of St Joseph’s and the resurrection scene, they
lifted that of St. Joseph and set it ablaze leaving the image of Christ’s resurrection broken on the ground.
The statement also reported that a Bajaj motorcycle was also moved out of the compound and burnt, the security post, vandalized and valuables kept there were set ablaze on the asphalt road with claims of having robbed the worshippers of their phones, bags and other valuables.
Th statement further said “the people that carryout these dastardly acts were in thousands, destroying and vandalizing church properties. The presence
of Sherif was seen in his car and his entourage at the scene of the attacked and immediately he left the violence erupted leading to the destruction of Church properties, vandalisation and de-humanizing church worshippers.
Though CAN commended the timely intervention by the police without which they said the crises could have snowballed into higher magnitude, it also issued a strong appeal and call on the government of Kwara State for quick intervention to prevent any further attack on churches and Christian worshippers in Kwara State particularly in Ilorin metropolis adding that the Christian community in Kwara State may be forced to defend herself for the necessary security of their lives and properties as no one has the monopoly of violence.
Earlier, the commissioner of Police, CP Ado Lawan in a Press conference said that thought the police is still investigating the crises, available evidence did not prove that it is meditated or that it has religious colouration but added that twenty-two more suspects
had been arrested and would be prosecuted as soon as pieces of evidence abound for the process, warning that anyone or group planning such attack must know that his command is ready to quash acts of hooliganism in any form.
After a meeting with all religious stake holders, the Governor of kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed issued a statement to assure Kwarans of his readiness to deploy the law and public fund to achieve peace, unity and progress in the state.
The governor made this commitment in Ilorin in separate meetings with leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kwara State and Quareeb Association.
According to the governor, “I stand before God and man to effectively deploy the instrumentalities of the law and public fund to achieve peace, unity and progress in the state. Any one who participated directly or indirectly in public disorder shall be brought to book”.
Governor Ahmed urged religious bodies not to allow miscreants who for economic reasons seek disaffections among various religious adherents in the state.
“This state is a State of Harmony. And we must all collectively work to sustain our cherished peaceful environment. Don’t play into the hands of mischief makers by labeling the activities of miscreants on New Year eve as religious issue. The benefit of unity is too high to allow it slip our hands”.
The governor assured the religious bodies that he will ensure justice by bringing perpetrators to book and averting future occurrence through proactive measures.
Responding, Chairman, CAN, Prof Tunde Opoola, urged the governor to ensure that justice is truly done as a way of assuring that the Christian community in the state renews their confidence in the state government.
A leader of the community, Mr Gambari Usman said the community was alerted by a Muslim woman whose daughter was being raped in her presence. Gambari commended Christian community in the area for coming to the rescue of the Muslim lady.
On his part, Chairman, Alfathiu Quarib, Mal. Oniye Abdulrasak said the association has had the harmonious relationship with the Christian community and dissociated the organisation from any attack on any church.
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